APPLiA Digital Interview: Why F-Gases are critical to achieve decarbonisation

F-gases are critical to achieve decarbonisation. While the link may not sound straightforward, here is why, as explained by APPLiA’s Environment Policy Manager, Naomi Marc, in the latest episode of APPLiA’s digital interviews.


Watch APPLiA's seventeenth digital interview, here.

 What are Fluorinated greenhouse gases (F-Gases)?

Fluorinated gases (‘F-gases’) are a group of man-made gases found in a wide range of everyday products as well as industrial applications, from refrigeration to air conditioning and heat pump equipment 

Often, F-Gases are utilised as substitutes for ozone-depleting substances such as chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs), as they are not harmful to the atmospheric ozone layer. Yet,“ they are powerful greenhouse gases, with an even higher warming potential than CO2, which is why they are being phased-down under the so-called F-Gas Regulation,” began Marc, setting the scene for the policy developments that have recently been introduced around the subject and as part of reaching the broader EU’s climate ambitions.

What is the EU’s proposed F-Gas Regulation about? 

Levels of emissions stemming from F-Gases in the EU increased twofold from 1990 to 2014 – in contrast to emissions of all other greenhouse gases, which were reduced during the same period. 

In response, the European Union is in the process of introducing regulatory measures which aim to limit the usage of F-gases as part of its commitment to tackling the climate change crisis. A first F-gas Regulation was adopted in 2006, and was then updated in 2014 and in 2022, “with an eye to cut the EU’s F-gas emissions by two-thirds compared to 2014 levels, by 2030,” contextualised Marc, on the history of F-Gas regulation in Europe which has laid the foundations for F-gas emissions to be significantly reduced, resulting in a decrease in F-Gas emissions each year since 2015.

What are the home appliance sector’s concerns around the initiative? 

As currently proposed, the European Commission’s phase-down “would drastically reduce the availability of critical refrigerants needed for heat pumps to heat and cool buildings,” Marc outlined. As a direct effect, “this would risk jeopardising the efforts made to date by the industry to meet emissions reduction targets and threatening the ultimate EU’s climate ambitions,” she continued.

Thanks to the measures in place, F-gas emissions have been falling every year since 2015, proving the success of the current strategy. Building on this, the impact of such a momentous reduction would risk neglecting the progress already made when it comes to innovating production processes and investments, severely setting back the EU’s climate ambitions.

What is key to ensuring a successful proposal?

The decarbonisation of Europe entails a gradual reduction of F-gases. For this to happen, policy-makers should refrain from accelerating the current phasing-down of F-Gases, at least until 2030, “to ensure decarbonisation and REPowerEU objectives can be met for heat pumps for buildings, in the most efficient manner and room for innovation is allowed at all times,” detailed Marc. A clear contradiction can in fact be found between the F-Gas Regulation Proposal, which requires the ban of heat pumps for buildings, and the REPowerEU objectives which calls instead for the wide-scale deployment of such technology.

Discover more by watching the latest digital interview.